Quality control is an important part of turning out respectable products that meet consumer needs. As factories and plants try to cut back on expenses, changing where the products are made is often the first step in a cost-efficiency solution. However, this can mean sending work overseas to foreign factories. This makes it harder to examine production lines, the quality of materials being used and the work being done. It isn’t impossible to still maintain quality control, but it does take some extra effort.
Challenges to Quality Control Overseas
Many companies experience cultural and communication barriers when working with foreign partners, but these aren’t the only challenges of outsourcing to an overseas factory. Other complications include:
- Few professional trained managers
- Failure to have a compliance plan
- Little visibility into the raw material supply chain
- Work ethics or behaviors foreign to U.S. businesses
- Little to zero training in quality standards and management
Solutions To Quality Control
There are ways to keep up with quality control efforts even when your office is thousands of miles away. By taking these tips into account, you can control the product you release and consumer satisfaction.
- Develop a Quality Control Program
Start by having a formal plan in place for quality assurance issues. This set of standards needs to be consistent among all of the departments across any plant or production facility. There should be clear expectations and specifications set, but follow up by making sure all facilities have the equipment in place to support the program. You may not be able to control if an overseas plant has access to new technology or large capacity turning equipment, but this should be an important consideration when choosing which foreign company to outsource work to.
- Rely on Multi-Point Testing
Don’t leave quality testing until the final stage of production or the last moments before a product ships. By inspecting at multiple points throughout the process, you will catch problems long before become significant customer concerns. Create an acceptable variation level by which to evaluate items and keep track of the areas where problems are most often found. This may require adjusting, whether it be through additional training, different materials or new management.
Your quality assurance program will flounder if you aren’t able to close the culture gap between your location and the new factory you have partnered with. Get to know the culture of your foreign peers and listen to their perspectives or insight. Invest in the relationship and you will have an easier time addressing quality control problems.